The inflation rate in the euro zone doubled as expected in September as the impact of weaker energy prices diminished. 

Inflation in the 19 countries sharing the euro was 0.4% this month. This was a two year high and up from 0.2% in August, EU's statistics agency Eurostat said today in its first estimate. 

The decline in energy prices was not as steep as a month earlier, but prices of unprocessed food increased by less. 

The rate was in line with market expectations from a Reuters poll of 48 economists.

However, core inflation - which according to the ECB's definition excludes the most volatile components of unprocessed food and energy - was stable at 0.8%, just below market expectations of a pick-up to 0.9%. 

The headline inflation rate remains far from the ECB's target of just below 2%, although its increase is good news for the central bank which is seeking to prevent a deflationary spiral. 

The ECB has been buying €80 billion worth of assets a month to pump money into the economy. Interest rates have been cut below zero and free loans been offered to banks. 

Excluding energy, food, alcohol and tobacco products, the September inflation rate was 0.8%, the same as in August.

Today's figures show that energy prices dropped by 3% year-on-year, compared with a 5.6% decline in August. 

Prices in food, alcohol and tobacco products went up 0.7%, from 1.3% in August. 

In the services sector, the largest in the euro zone economy, prices were 1.2% higher year-on-year in September,  compared to 1.1% in the previous month.

Eurostat also published data on unemployment, with the euro zone rate stable at 10.1% in August, the joint lowest level since July 2011. 

The total number of people without a job increased by 8,000 during the month to 16.326 million.